Welcome the stranger

Sunday’s Scripture — November 7, 2021

Matthew 25:31-46

 

Reflection

At its core, the message this week is simple: Offer hospitality to others.  How are we to do that? Feed the hungry.  Clothe the naked.  Welcome the stranger.  Visit the prisoner.

Jesus says that if you did any of these acts for any person at all, you’ve done them for God. This is another extension of how we respond to God’s love: Since God loves us, we respond by loving God and loving others. Love isn’t just a warm feeling — it’s expressed through our actions. And this passage makes clear that it’s not just an action we are to show our friends, family and church, but to those who are outside of our circles — especially people who are marginalized or hurting.

The call to welcome and hospitality is repeated throughout Scripture. 1 Peter 4 tells us to offer hospitality to one another without complaining.  Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

In New Testament times, hospitality called for more than making room for another.  A good host not only met their guest’s need for food and shelter, but raised the bar to include a warm welcome and kindness — which often included the washing of dirty feet after a day of travel, a welcoming kiss and anointing with oil (see Luke 7:44-47 for how Jesus responded when he was not welcomed this way!).

This passage from the Gospel of Matthew calls us to reflect God’s love in how we treat others. We are called to live with an open door and an open heart — and in the midst of our acts of welcome and hospitality, Jesus is present with us. When we care for the “least of these,” we are actually caring for Jesus.

Questions

  • In your community, who is most in need of welcome?
  • How can you show hospitality to strangers?
  • Describe a time when a stranger showed you undeserved hospitality.

Prayer

God of radical welcome, in Jesus Christ you have demonstrated what it means to love others with boundless grace. Open our eyes to the strangers we encounter who are in need of an extra measure of hospitality and empower us to respond with love so that our we can live out or faith and love for you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.